Thursday 27 October 2016

'I just felt that they didn't care' - Irish mum who suffered from post-natal depression slams poor Dail attendance at mental health debate

Published 27/04/2016 | 14:10

Ciara O'Brien and son Jamie
Ciara O'Brien and son Jamie

An Irish mum who suffered from post natal depression after the birth of her young son has slammed the poor Dail attendance at yesterday's mental health debate.

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Images of an almost empty Dáil chamber were circulated online after the debate amid claims that only 10 out of 158 TDs were in attendance.

Ciara O'Brien (31) was diagnosed with PND shortly after 21-month-old Jamie was born - and has been active in raising awareness around the lack of public services for those suffering with mental health disorders on social media ever since.

"I am so frustrated at the turn-out as every party candidate that knocked on my door in the election run-up spoke about additional funding, services and support when I asked them what their stance was on mental health," she told

"And yet there was practically no-one there to speak on behalf on those people who really need their voice heard.

"I just felt that they didn't care, that they don't think it's important. If it's not something as contentious as the water charges, it doesn't get any attention."

A screenshot of Tuesday's mental health debate posted by the Rubberbandits/Facebook
A screenshot of Tuesday's mental health debate posted by the Rubberbandits/Facebook

The young mother - who lives with her partner and son in the Dublin suburb of Shankill - was placed on a public waiting list in 2014 for cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and still hasn't received an appointment.

Despite struggling to meet financial commitments immediately after her child's birth, Ms O'Brien and her partner have had to pay e400 a month on private therapy fees.

"My doctor stressed to me that I needed therapy urgently and suggested I go private immediately while I was waiting on a public appointment," she said.

"If I couldn't make those payments - which are a huge financial burden - I don't know what position I would be in right now.

"I feel like I could have taken my own life and they still wouldn't care.

On her doctor's advice, Ms O'Brien is still attending weekly therapy sessions for depression, which she continues to pay for privately.

She wants to know exactly where the funds allocated for mental health services is going and why the government is diverting €12m of the original €35m to other areas of the health service.

"I would like to see another discussion taking place - and I would like to know exactly why certain prominent figures were not there," she said.

"I am outraged, as I'm sure any other Irish person experiencing mental health problems are."

Thousands turned to Twitter last night voicing their concerns with the hashtag ‘IAmAReason’ and calling for the restoration of funding for mental health services.

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